The pictures are on Facebook and Instagram ~ and they’re killing me. Because it seems like just yesterday I was the one torturing my kids with ‘first day of school’ pics. But not this year. We’ve got one getting married next month, one working her first full-time job, and one that just moved in down at the University of Texas. Yep, my empty nest. *gulp*
But I remember well (and still struggle) with parenting angst. And in particular, I remember all the screening of schools, teachers, friends, etc. and trying to find the perfect everything for my kids. Trying to be the perfect everything for my kids.
Gosh, it’s tiring. Isn’t it? Trying so hard. Coming up empty. Again and again.
The truth is this: I’ll never ever be a perfect mom. I’ll never be everything my kids needed me to be. And it kills me. But instead of cratering ~ I look for promises. And here I share them with you.
the truth & the promise
1. Truth: No matter how long you search, you will never find or create the perfect environment.
Oh sweet Jesus, why didn’t someone shake me by the shoulders when I was parenting my firstborn? It took me a l-o-n-g time to realize there is no perfect way to school a child. There is no perfect school. There is no perfect curriculum. And all the striving to find or create that environment was wasted time. I wish I was a better listener when my kids were little. I wish I was more in-tune to their faces over homework, their tiny sighs and tired eyes in the carpool line. I wish I would have surrendered the god-of-the-perfect-school-environment earlier. Because it does not exist. So what’s a mother to do? This is the promise:
And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself. Acts 20:32
Dear God, I entrust my child to you and the message of your grace. Not to the school. Or the environment. Not to the best teacher or a certain peer group. But to You alone. And I rest knowing you will build her up.
2. Truth: Despite your best efforts, you will do things that mess up your kids.
Where do I start? In sharing about my forcing my kids to take violin to improve their IQ? Or reading Emily Dickinson on the front porch out loud while waiting for carpool? Or making them eat weird school lunches because of the latest article I read on cancer development in children? I got myself plenty of repair work to do. Yes, I messed up my kids. And in more profound ways than just this. For many years, I tried to lead them to worship fear instead of Jesus. Because I was an over-protective freak of a mother. Haunted by my messy past. Terrified they would get hurt by the world. More on that later. Here is the promise:
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28
Dear God, I will remember that in my bumbling and even in my sin ~ you are bigger. And you waste nothing. So all my parenting moments, the good and bad, are in your hands. And in your hands, it’s like magic. As things work out for good. I don’t understand how you do that but I’m overwhelmed by your goodness. Thank you.
3. Truth: Regardless of how well you parent, your kids will make mistakes.
Ah, yes. Just as I am not perfect and mess things up ~ my kids also make mistakes. Big and small. We all bruise each other with our sins. Don’t be alarmed at your child’s sin. I think that’s one of the most damaging things we can do as parents ~ act surprised and shocked at a child’s depravity. That just creates shame. Instead step in. Like God did in the garden. This is how we embrace biblical parenting. By looking at how God treats us. He wasn’t shocked or embarrassed. He was honest. Strong words. Enormous mercy. And creative provision.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:23-24
Oh God, what grace it is that my child and I hold on to your undeserved kindness together. Bumblers, stumblers meeting you with open arms. I will celebrate this with my child on the confusing days. Knowing you already know. And you made a way.
4. No matter how careful you are to protect, your kids will experience bad things.
This one. It’s hard to even write: But yes, bad things happen ~ even at school. I’ve never been more certain that pain is a condition of life. No one escapes pain. Do not be fooled into thinking worry will protect your family. Do not worship fear. Instead embrace the pain-free days. Right now. Rejoice. And when the darkness comes, the words of Jesus:
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33
God. It’s so hard. But help us to sit deep in your peace during trials. And grab hold of your heart in our sorrows. We are your kids. May we find each other and your grace as we walk bravely in the bad things. Remembering no weapon formed against us will prosper. Amen.
Now, mom. Deep cleansing breaths. And what else did I miss? Do you have some truths & promises?